The United States government says it looks forward to working with the Trinidad and Tobago government after Port of Spain reacted angrily to a report by the US State Department that placed the oil-rich twin island republic among several Caribbean countries not in compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons (TIP).
Of the Caribbean countries listed in the “2019 Trafficking in Persons Report,” only the Bahamas and Guyana “fully” met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
The report noted that the Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago had been placed on Tier 2.
But Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, speaking at a ceremony here last Friday, wondered whether or not the country that gave Port of Spain a failing grade was doing much better with its own migration and TIP situation.
“Well if I was marking their paper what would I give them? They have the same problem we have – thousands of migrants rushing your border wanting to come into your country because they see a greener grass on your side than on their side. That is the number one political issue in America,” Rowley said.
“Children are dying on the border, some of them in cages, hundreds of people in a room that is built for 10, the temperature is 41 degrees and, of course, they have a bigger military, they have a bigger security system, they have an army, a navy, an air force and they got a bigger treasury than Trinidad and Tobago,” he said, asking “how have they handled their situation better than ours?”
However, in a brief statement, the US Embassy, while it did not directly respond to Rowley, made mention of an earlier statement issued by National Security Minister Stuart Young, saying “we appreciate the Minister of National Security’s balanced approach to the issues raised in the TIP report and look forward to working with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to continue fighting this crime against universal human rights”.